Dogs Make RVing More Enjoyable

RVing is fun for the whole family including the four-legged canine variety, but before you hit the road for the first time with a dog, you should consider the following.

Before Your First Trip

- Get your dog acclimated to the inside of your RV by performing a daily activity like mealtime (for you and your dog) before your first trip. If you plan on leaving your dog alone at some campsites, practice leaving your dog alone in the RV for a short period of time before your first trip to see how they react. Do they bark, become anxious, etc? If so, plan accordingly while they adjust to their new surroundings.

Dogs are Family too

- Pack for your dog as well as yourself. Essentials to include: Food bowl, water bowl, toys, leash, poop bags, tie out cable, etc. Regarding food, it is recommended that you carry enough food for your dog to last the entire trip as your dog’s regular brand may not be available during your travels. Don’t forget doggie shampoo for when they roll in something smelly.

The RV's Outside Shower is a Great Spot to Give Your Dog a Bath

- Contact your vet concerning ticks, heartworm, etc. that might pose problems at your destination or points along the way and vaccinate accordingly. If your dog takes medication; stock up before you head out, carry a copy of the records with you in case of an emergency and your veterinarian’s emergency contact information.

- Be certain your dog’s collar has a license, up to date rabies tag and emergency contact information with your cell number. If your dog has a microchip, know exactly where the chip is, and write down the number. Those that RV for extended periods of time may want to consider adding a “travel tag” that lists the make and model of your RV, along with the license plate information for your RV, tow vehicle or dinghy for those times you are camped out of cell phone service.

- Familiarize yourself with any poisonous plants you might encounter and make sure your dog stays away from them.

- Your dog is likely to come in contact with fleas and ticks along your journey. Be sure to give your dog all necessary prevention treatments before your trip.

- Make sure your dog is welcome at the campgrounds or RV parks where you plan to stay. Many parks have breed and / or size restrictions. While in contact with the park ask for a space near the dog walking area.

- Bring along an outside mat or blanket your dog can call its own.

Bring Along a Mat for Your Dog

On The Road

- Never leave your dog inside your travel trailer or fifth wheel while towing.

- Dogs should ride restrained with the passengers in the motorhome or tow vehicle. If they travel in a crate, make sure if it is secure in the event of an accident. While many RVers feel it is safe to travel with small dogs in their laps just think of the consequences if the air bags deploy in a collision.

- Break up long drives with potty breaks and walks for you and your dog along the way.

- If you need to leave your dog while you go sightseeing, shopping for groceries, etc: For those towing travel trailers or fifth wheels, you should always move your dog to the RV, provide water, crack windows and open roof vents in warm weather. Motorhome owners will want to park with their windshield parked away from the sun and provide air and water as mentioned above. Some RVers utilize a wireless temperature monitor that lets them track interior temperatures in their RV via their smart phone while away.

At Camp

- Upon arrival, before releasing your dog, check the campsite for hazards such as:

Goat Head, Cacti or other thorny plants that might injure your dog.

Food waste (like chicken bones) left by previous less thoughtful campers that might injure or sicken your dog. Double check the fire pit too before your dog does, ending up a sooty charcoal mess.

Check the Fire Ring for Food Waste Before Your Dog Does

When boondocking or enjoying other wild camping locations, be aware that some un-self contained campers may not follow proper protocol when “going where the bears go”. Follow faint trails leading out of the campsite ending behind trees or other visual barriers to see if any odorous temptations for your dog remain. Nobody wants their dog hauling soiled TP or worse back into the campsite.

- Provide a shady place with water and a mat for your dog to hang out with the family near the RV.

- Anchor your dogs tie out to a solid anchor making sure the anchor point and length comply with campground rules.

When Required Tie Your Dog to a Solid Object While Paying Attention to the Maximum Leash Length Allowed

- Don’t leave your dog tethered outside your RV in your absence. Small children might be tempted to come into the campsite to play with your dog or worse a predator!

- At night consider a glow collar for your dog, so they can be seen better.

A Glow Collar Makes it Easier to See Your Dog at Night

- Know and follow the rules regarding walking your dog and where the designated dog “rest areas” are located. Always head out of your RV with a poop bag (or two) in your pocket to avoid embarrassing situations.

With a little preparation, the right equipment and a little knowledge, RVing with the family dog can be an enjoyable experience for the whole family while providing life-long memories too.

Dave Helgeson
Author: Dave Helgeson
Dave Helgeson is the MHRV Show Director. He and his wife love to travel across the west in their RV. Dave writes about all things RVing but loves to share destinations and boondocking advice.

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